Inequality in health is a growing problem internationally as well as in Denmark. Research has so far primarily focused on analyzing the social determinants causing the problem and suggesting structural health political solutions to it. Less work has been done on examining nurses’ and other health professionals’ potential for reducing this inequality and the ethical dilemmas they face when doing so. The purpose of this paper is to analyze and discuss two central ethical dilemmas about paternalism and priority-setting, nurses – and other health professionals – face when working on reducing inequality in health in a municipal context. The paper makes use methodologically of theories of paternalism, political liberalism and communitarianism. We conclude the paper by arguing that nurses are permitted to adopt weak paternalism to reduce inequality in health and that individual socially deprived citizens should not be given more priority than non-deprived citizens in municipal healthcare.

Keywords: health professionals, paternalism, priority-setting, separate spheres, social inequality in health